Many intricate pathways contribute to the timely control of gene expression during development. Polycomb repressive complexes (PRC1 and PRC2) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are players associated with gene repression in various developmental processes such as X chromosome inactivation (XCI) and genomic imprinting. Historically, lncRNAs were proposed to directly recruit PRC2. However, recent evidence suggests that promiscuous interactions between PRC2 and RNA fine-tune the function of the complex through a multiplicity of mechanisms. A PRC2-recruitment model was definitively overturned in the paradigm of XCI by Xist RNA, being replaced by a novel mechanism which puts PRC1 in the spotlight. This review focuses on these recent advances in understanding the interplay between RNA and Polycomb complexes for gene expression control. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.